Before they were the Beach Boys, they were the Pendletones. This shirt is why.

CIRCA 1963: Photo of Beach Boys Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The Pendletones

In the early 1960s, a group called The Pendletones adopted their name in honor of the surf uniform of the day: Pendleton shirts worn over tee shirts with khakis. The original lineup included brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine.

The Pendletones soon changed their name to the Beach Boys (learn more about them here: (the Beach Boys) Even though only one member of the group had ever been on a surfboard, they sang about the California surfing scene; waves, sunshine, cars and girls. This might have been simple subject matter, but layered instrumentation and soaring harmonies made these songs anything but simple. Under the unique artistic leadership of Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys defined surf music. And though their name changed, their uniform didn’t. The band wore this blue and charcoal plaid shirt on the covers of 45s and LPs throughout the early 1960s.

Album covers by the Beach boys, for Surfin' Safari and Surfer Gilr. The Boys are wearing Pendleton Board Shirts.

Surf History

The Beach Boys’ Pendleton shirts were part an existing trend. When surfing came to California in the late 1950s, surfers devised performance wear: swim trunks and plaid Pendleton shirts over a layer of Vaseline. Surfers wore the same shirts over light pants on the shore, and a fashion trend was born.

The Majorettes

This look hit the radio airwaves courtesy of the Majorettes, whose song, “White Levis” became a number one hit in 1963. As the lyrics said, “My boyfriend’s always wearin’ white Levi’s…and his tennis shoes and his surfin’ hat and a big plaid Pendleton shirt.”

Record and cover for the 45 single of "White Levis" by the Majorettes. The cover shows a drawing of a young man wearing white Levi's and a plaid Pendleton shirt.

That’s a Pendleton shirt  cover of that 45, even though they named the song after the pants. You can give it a listen here, and don’t be surprised if you start singing along.  But let’s get back to the shirt made so popular by the Beach Boys.

An Icon Returns

In 2002, Pendleton celebrated eight decades of Pendleton shirts by bringing back iconic shirts from each decade. To celebrate the 1960s, we brought back the Board Shirt in the same plaid seen on all those record covers. We call it the Original Surf Plaid.

The shirt has stayed in the line ever since.

A young man stands next to an orange surfboard in front of a shingled wall. He is wearing a Pendleton Board Shirt in the Original Surf Plaid made famous by The Beach Boys.

Photo Joel Bear

We’ve used it in caps, hats, bags and jackets. It’s still made in the original 100% virgin Umatilla wool as it was back then.

A man kneels in his driveway in front of a motorcycle, with is arm around a white fluffy dog. he is wearing a Pendleton Board Shirt in Original Surf Plaid.

Photo Cassy Berry

There’s some discussion now and then in Pendleton’s Menswear division about which is our most enduring men’s item of all time. Some say it’s the Topster, the shirt jacket that defined collegiate wear in the 1950s and 60s. Some say it’s the Original Westerley cardigan worn by the Dude in “The Big Lebowski.”

Musician Ben Jaffe leans against a cedarwood wall. He is wearing a Pendleton Board Shirt in Original Surf Plaid.

Photo Ben Jaffe, styling Suzanne Santo

Others claim the honor for the Board Shirt. We’ll let you decide.

A young man leans against a rusted orange camper. he is wearing a Pendleton Board Shirt in Original Surf Plaid.

Photo Travis Hallmark

No matter where you are, or what’s the weather, this piece of the sunny California surf scene will take you to the waves.

A woman and a man wear Pendleton Board Shirts in Original Surf Plaid.